The 5 Point Band

Let’s be honest about two things:

1. Church bands tend to “overplay” and step over each other on a regular  basis

2. Church bands are often a hodge podge of who’s available instead of who is needed.

What I’m going to suggest will hopefully unmuddy the waters sonically speaking and give structure to arranging and picking your church’s band for a worship service.

When I put a band together for a Sunday or Wednesday I first look at who is available. It’s all well and good to want a thick analog synth sound on a song but if all your keyboard players are on vacation, you’ll need to rethink your plans. Once I know who is available, I start to fill roles based on my “5 point band”. I admit that I don’t always do it consciously, because I’m so used to doing it. But it’s always there in the background of my mind. So here are the 5 points that I look for to put a band together. I’m going to write them in order of importance.

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The Electric: The Best Overdrive Pedal For Worship

In this series I try and address different aspects of the practical side of playing electric guitar in church music. This week we’ll talk about overdrive and gain pedals worship bands.


What is the best overdrive pedal for a worship guitar player?

The question is asked constantly on Google searches, blogs, forums, and even people who find their way to this blog.

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Does The Worship Leader Have To Sing?

For someone out there, this is going to be a mind blowing, revolutionary thought. So by all means, feel free to sit down for a moment and catch your breath.

For the rest of you, who hopefully get the playful spirit in which I wrote the above sentence, this is a valid conversation for us to have.

In some church traditions, this is a pointless conversation with an obvious answer: of course not. But for many evangelical churches, the question I posed would mean a complete paradigm shift. The worship leader is ALWAYS the person singing. Whether they sing on their own, or if they are also the piano player, guitarist, or even bass player, the worship leader always sings. I’m going to propose that maybe this thinking is why your church’s music ministry is struggling.

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“Let’s Sing That Again”: Vocals Cues In The Worship Service

Last week I was at a Pastor’s Conference where many different worship bands and leaders served leading us in worship before the sessions. Almost all of them fell victim to the trap of overusing vocal cues in their leading. What is a vocal cue? Why would someone use them? How can someone overuse them? Well, let’s talk about it.

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The Electric: Chord Voicing

In this series I try and address different aspects of the practical side of playing electric guitar in church music. This week we’ll talk about chord voicing and how they can be used when playing in the church band.



A while back I was asked to play electric guitar at the last minute. The church had an electric and an amplifier and that was it. No overdrive pedal, no delay, the amp  had some reverb but the options were pretty much just “on” and “off'”. What’s a guitar player to do?

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Finding Your Place Pt 1



I started playing bass when I was 12. When I was 14 I picked up the guitar. I’ve been playing both ever since. I led worship for the first time at age 14. I learned to practice by playing in bands in high school, and worship teams in my teens and 20′s.

Not everyone who plays in a church band has that kind of background. A lot of good folks learned to play their instrument on their own and don’t know how to play and practice with a band. The following series of posts will be thoughts on how to serve God and His church well, by learning how to practice well. Here’s a few thoughts and musings on “Finding A Place” in the band for you and your instrument.

Part 1: Find Your Place in the Spirit.

“The time spent interacting with God is the foundation of any service I offer”

For the most part when you show up to a church band practice it’s either early (6am is my standard wake up on a Sunday) or you are rushing to get there after a long day at work for a mid week service. The point I’m making is that it’s not always under the most ideal circumstances. So come prepared.

The worship I offer God and the music I play comes out of the week leading up to Sunday. The time spent interacting with God is the foundation of any service I offer. If I show up having spent little or no time relationally with God then how can I lead people in His praise? If I haven’t spent time learning to be a servant than how can I serve in music and song? If I haven’t learned more about being humble before the Lord, then how can I be humble as a musician?

We all have bad days. We all have bad days that group together to form bad weeks. What I’m talking about is isn’t always living a life of “sunshine and roses” but what I’m saying (and I’m saying this from experience) is that the relationship built with God, even in the toughest days and weeks is enough to overcome my human weakness and put me a place to serve my band, the church, and most of all my God and Creator Jesus Christ.

Nothing I’m going to talk about in future posts can happen well or happen over a long period of time without first finding yourself hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:1-4) and having the Holy Spirit of God begin the transforming work in your heart and mind.

The Problem With Modern Church Music

The Following was twittered by @brentonbrown and is meant to show how lame/stupid/ill thought/etc criticism to modern worship music is.

The problem was that found I agreed, at least in part, with many of the objections.

So I’ve included the original posting along with some of my thoughts.

From an American newspaper in an article objecting to new trends in church music.
There are several reasons for opposing it.

1. It’s too new.
-This is actually a problem to be dealt with. How does someone who listens to mainstream top 40 connect with a worship team doing experimental music. Or a church that has done hymns for its entire church life make the jump to Top 40. Its not a reason not to do new songs or styles, but a issue that needs to be dealt with in love, service and humility.

2. It’s often worldly, even blasphemous.
-This charge makes the assumption that some styles of music are good and some styles of music are evil. This is not true but still something held in churches today.

3. The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established style.

-This is true. Rock music is most likely not pleasant to an 80 year old. Twang country is probably not pleasant to someone from the Urban Centers, and Metal is unpleasant to everyone accept folks like me who enjoy it. Worship leaders should know their audience.

4. Because there are so many new songs you can’t learn them all.

-You’ll never learn all the new songs. I don’ t know all the old songs. This objection smacks of the fear of change.

5. It put’s too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than Godly lyrics.

-I go both ways on this one.

A while back I was in a worship service of very hip and modern music and I realized that it had been minutes since I had sang, and I found that repeated in many of the songs. There is a difference between a performance concert where the band plays to the audience and a corporate time of worship in music when the band serves the people by leading them in song. Sadly too many talented musicians fail to make good worship leaders because they don’t see the difference.

On the flip side, there is far too much bad music in the church and a band playing well, being well practiced and sounding professional is far from a bad thing.

6. The new music creates disturbances making people act indecently and disorderly.

-if that’s happening then read I Corinthians.

7. The preceding generation got along perfectly without it.

-They also got along fine w/o flu shots and iphones… that being said, there is some wisdom in that statement that gets overlooked because of the shortsightedness/stupidity in that statement. Not everything the preceding generation did was dumb, and not every new idea is good.

8. It’s a money making scam.

-Boy it sure can be… (cough…CCLI… cough…)
9. And some of these new music upstarts are lewd and loose.

-To be fair it might seem that way to an older generation and in truth the artsy types seem to be more open to instability morally. But you know… so are the not artsy types so…

You might think this was written recently. But it was written by an American preacher, a church leader attacking Isaac Watts, the hymn writer who wrote the hymn ‘When I Survey The Wondrous Cross’ published in 1707.

Adam’s Final Thoughts:

Overall, I feel like it’s the same problem all over again.

-People confuse style with substance
-People put personal preferences over service and the needs of the many (both old and young are guilty of this)
-And they try to condense a nuanced subject like music in the church with cookie cutter charges and predictable answers.

Why These Songs?

Some thoughts I’d had recently on why I pick the songs I pick when I lead worship.


The bible speaks in many places about Singing a New Song to the Lord.

I admit that I don’t like doing new songs. It just easier to go with the songs everyone knows or the songs other band leaders have introduced. But last year I was convicted of my laziness and our need to be constantly reloading our song lists and expressions of worship. So new songs have to happen.


Music has a way of calling people to the Lord or back to the Lord as the case may be. If someone is sneaking into the back row for the 1st time in years than these will be the songs they know. These will be the songs they connected with their relationship to God. So i’m very intentional about having some other tunes in a set list.


Hymns. Some people love them. Some people hate them. I don’t make a distinction between hymns and choruses other than one has more words than the other. Some Hymns are really good and I pick those and some aren’t and I leave those alone.

Hymns do come in really handy for a few reasons. Older saints tend to connect well with them. They also tend to be a little more open to new styles and expressions of music in worship when it’s done with songs they grew up with because at least the words or tune is familiar. Younger Christians are gravitating to the hymns because they often express the reality of our lives in Christ better than the songs on Christian radio do and the seem to lend themselves well to modern expressions of music.

So I go with what works.


Like many in my generation I find little connection with “Christian music”. The music seems to have little connection with my faith, Christian life or preference in music. That’s fine, it’s not geared towards me anyway. But there are people in the church who love that music, they connect to it in a way that I don’t. I want to serve them so sometimes I do songs I don’t care for because it’ll serve the larger community and that is a good thing.


In a church with as large as demographic cross section as the one I serve at variety is the key.

I try to be intentional about the songs I pick. I try to be intentional about our “sound” (folk, pop, rock, country, etc) so that a broad range of tastes are covered.

No one type of sound, style or song should have a monopoly.

Jesus should have the only monopoly when it comes to music in the church.